Former EMT involved in Nichols investigation loses appeal to lift license suspension

Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 7:33 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 3, 2023 at 8:15 PM CST

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Friday morning, the Tennessee Health Professional Board, which is within the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), held an emergency board meeting to hear the appeal of former Memphis Fire Department EMTs Robert Long and JaMichael Sandridge.

Long and Sandridge are the EMTs who were at the scene of Tyre Nichols’ arrest on January 7th.

Turns out, that was Long’s first day back in the field after returning from combat deployment with the U.S. Army.

Because of timing, only Long was able to give his testimony, and he described his arrival to the scene off Castlegate Lane and Ross Road.

“I asked MPD what happened to the patient, and an MPD officer state that (Nichols) ran from us,” Long said.

Long said he was going off the information given to him by responding MPD officers, that Nichols had been pepper sprayed and nothing else.

“I performed a visual assessment and noted that the patient had a bump on his head, a busted lip, and a dry, bloody nose,” the former EMT said.

After an internal investigation, Long was fired from the department, along Sandridge and Lieutenant Michelle Whitaker, in late January.

There is also a fourth MFD employee that was mentioned during a Memphis City Council meeting last week.

Friday, we confirmed through MFD the identity of that employee.

Jesse Guy is currently a Firefighter Paramedic with MFD and has been with the department since October of 2012.

He arrived to the Tyre Nichols scene much later than Long, Sandridge, and Whitaker.

Guy had an administrative hearing before an internal panel two weeks ago, and as of now it’s unclear if any disciplinary action has been taken against him.

Long and Sandridge subsequently had their TDH licenses suspended, and Friday was their chance to appeal that decision.

According to Long, circumstances were hindering his ability to render aid.

“(Nichols) was not compliant and rolled away from me,” he began to list. “MPD is still standing over the patient, impeding patient care. MPD state they would not uncuff him.”

Nichols being cuffed, according to Long, prevent MFD from being able to take his blood pressure.

Long also mentioned that Nichols told him he’d been drinking that night, but when pressed by the board that narrative began to fragment.

“Was there a sobriety test administered in the field?” asked one of the board members.

“Not that I was aware of,” Long responded.

“Was his BAC taken in the field?” the same board member asked.

“Not that I was of aware of,” repeated Long.

Darrell O’Neal, Long’s attorney, brought an EMT trainer, John Holloway, as an expert witness to advocate on Long’s behalf.

Both sides watched portions of the SkyCop video from the Castlegate scene that included Long to match with Long’s testimony.

“EMT Long is not a threat or danger to society,” Holloway said.

During cross examination, the board asked Holloway, in his opinion, if it seemed as though MPD was impeding care to Nichols by standing in the way.

“No,” Holloway said plainly.

In the end, the board voted unanimously to keep Long’s license suspended.

“The evidence, as presented, actually reaffirms the stand that was previously taken,” one board member said near the conclusion of the hearing.

TDH told us the hearing for Sandridge will happen at a later date and time, though a specific date and time was not given.

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